The Independent Cretan State (1898 - 1913)
On 9th December 1898 Prince George of Greece, second son of King George I of Greece, landed on Crete as High Commissioner of the Autonomous Cretan State. According to the terms of the new status quo, the island was granted extended autonomy but remained under the suzerainty of the sultan and the protection of the European powers, whose troops guaranteed peace and the rule of order. The withdrawal of the Turkish army in the autumn of 1898 marked the end of a troubled, uncertain era.

Institutions, legislation, administration and Cretan society itself embarked on a course of modernization. Crete distanced itself from the Ottoman world, forging ever closer links with Greece. The new regime passed new legislation, minted its own currency - the Cretan drachma - and established a new bureaucracy. These political and institutional reforms accelerated changes in the mentality, way of life and customs of Cretan society.

For the town itself and urban life in general, the period of Autonomy was one of transformation. Major public works projects such as the new quay were carried out together with urban redevelopment, the erection of imposing neoclassical buildings smartened up the town centre. The predominance of Muslims in the population waned until it was overturned, while the people of Heraklion increasingly adopted European cultural traits in their everyday lives, though these were combined with a host of traditional features.

1898  |  1899  |  1900  |  1902  |  1905  |  1906  |  1908  |  1909  |  1910  |  1911  |  1912  |  1913
Prince George, High Commissioner of Crete, with the admirals of the Great Powers on Crete (Historical Museum of Crete, S.C.H.S, Heraklion)
The arch erected for the arrival of Prince George in Heraklion, 1902 (R. Behaeddin, N. Alikiotis Press, No 16, Theophanis Kokkinakis Collection)
View of Heraklion from the walls, showing the Cathedral of St. Minas, 1900 (R. Behaeddin, Vikelaia Municipal Library, Heraklion)
The Cretan postal service, 1900 (R. Behaeddin, Vikelaia Municipal Library, Heraklion)
One hundred drachma note issued under Cretan Autonomy (Yiorgos I. Panayiotakis)
The Prince in St. Minas Square, 1900 (photograph: G. Marayiannis)